Main image: New Nightingale Hospital in London. Image PA.
Bristol is to get a new Nightingale hospital at the University of the West of England (UWE) to help deal with the coronavirus crisis, the NHS confirmed today.
Along with Harrogate, the city is one of two regional sites picked to increase the number of beds in the UK by 1,500.
The announcement by NHS England comes on the same day the first new hospital is due to open in London.
The 4,000-bed facility at the ExCel Centre in the capital’s Docklands has been built in less than a fortnight – as hospitals increase their critical care capacity to deal with COVID-19.
The newly-planned site at UWE will be able to look after 1,000 patients from the region while Harrogate can care for up to 500.
They join other sites due to open at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and Manchester’s Central Complex.
NHS Hospitals across the country have already freed up more than 33,000 beds, the equivalent of 50 new hospitals,
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the building of the London hospital from scratch in less than a fortnight was “nothing short of extraordinary”.
He added: “Now we are gearing up to repeat that feat at another four sites across the country to add to the surge capacity in current NHS hospitals.
“We’re giving the go ahead to these additional sites, hoping they may not be needed but preparing in case they are.
“But that will partly depend on continuing public support for measures to reduce growth in the infection rate by staying at home to save lives.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The nation is facing an unprecedented global emergency and we are taking exceptional measures to ensure the NHS has whatever it needs to tackle this virus.
“The NHS and the military have achieved something extraordinary in setting up NHS Nightingale, London in only a matter of days.
“It is testament to their hard work and dedication that an additional four hospitals will be rolled out across the nation.”
Mayor of the West of England, Tim Bowles said he welcomed the move.
He said: “While we all hope these bed spaces won’t be needed, it is absolutely right that we should be prepared.
“We all have to do our bit to prepare, and for the majority of us, that is staying at home to stop the virus spreading.”